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THE BUYING GAME

Interested in starting what Steve Martin calls “an intellectual harem” of your own? Forget about big, blue-chip art pieces for the moment. It’s best to start with younger, contemporary artists and get more bang for your buck.

Just go As David Hoberman says, “Go to galleries and museums as often as you can and discover what interests you. And don’t be afraid to ask questions. There will be a little learning curve, but you’ll figure it out pretty quickly.”

Do your homework Subscribe to a number of art magazines such as ArtForum, Frieze and Art in America, and make sure to read the reviews. “The best way to do it,” explains Doug Cramer, “is to see the artwork yourself and then read the reviews. It’ll teach you how to think critically and how the art world determines its successes and failures.”

Be frugal “Buy things that you can afford and always make sure that they are things that you can live with just in case you’ve made a bad decision,” suggests producer Thom Mount. “More importantly, don’t buy anything you don’t enjoy. Because there’s got to be joy in this. It’s art after all, and if there’s no joy, you shouldn’t be in it.”

Bigger isn’t always better You can either buy your way in and purchase historical, big-ticket items right off the bat (as Geffen has) or you can discover younger, contemporary artists and watch your portfolio grow. “I just connect with contemporary art intellectually, emotionally and visually,” says Dean Valentine. “And I like the fact that when you buy something from some kid who’s decided to spend the rest of his life making art, you’re saying, I believe in you. Go for it.”

Meet the artist In the same way that you’d look for a director for your next project, the value of face time is undeniable. “My general principle,” explains Doug Cramer, who says that he always buys drawings first, “is to look for work that interests me and then to find out about the artist. And by meeting him or her, you can tell if there’s anything behind it or if it’s just a fluke.”

Relax. “One of the mistakes I made when I first started collecting,” says Cheech Marin, “is that I bought everything I could because I thought I’d never see anything like it again. So I made a lot of costly mistakes. What I learned is that it’s better to get the best piece that you can rather than a bunch of pieces of lesser value.”

Remember what you know Most galleries are flexible when it comes to virtually every aspect of buying and selling art. Phil Gersh says, “It helps being a good negotiator, and we do a lot of negotiating in our business, remember that.”

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